Trump, Charlottesville, and Presidential Blinders to White Terrorism

Trump has been widely criticized for his reaction to the white terrorism in Charlottesville last week.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”

lynching of two men in 1930s.Viewed from a bit longer lens of history this reaction to white supremacist terrorism fits in very well with the lengthy history of Presidents, Congress, and the judicial branch turning a blind eye to white terrorism used as a tool to oppress African Americans during the so-called Jim Crowe era.

In a new report from the Equal Justice Initiative about lynchings:

Racial terror lynchings extended beyond the American South, according to new data released by EJI. In addition to more than 4000 terror lynchings that EJI documented in 12 Southern states between 1880 and 1940, more than 300 African Americans were lynched in documented acts of racial terrorism in states outside the Deep South. Racial terror lynchings were horrific acts of targeted violence against African Americans by white mobs who murdered black people with no risk of accountability or punishment.

In an expanded edition of Lynching in America, EJI documents racial terrorism beyond Southern borders, detailing more than 300 lynchings of black people in eight states with high lynching rates in the Midwest and the Upper South, including Oklahoma (76 lynchings), Missouri (60), Illinois (56), West Virginia (35), Maryland (28), Kansas (19), Indiana (18), and Ohio (15).

“Racial terror lynching was a national problem. Hundreds of lynchings took place outside the American South, and millions of people fled to the North, Midwest, and West seeking shelter from the terror,” said EJI Director Bryan Stevenson. 1

FDR, for example, kept silent about this and all of the other violence by state and private actors used to enforce the totalitarian system of segregation because he needed the support of racist Southern Democrats to move his New Deal legislation through Congress. As noted here earlier 2  this led to African Americans and others of color being essentially excluded from the flow of government money through social security, unions, housing, and education policies.

Trump undoubtedly knows nothing of this history. But when he wrote in his tweet, “It’s been going on for a long time in our country.” We should reflect back on the actual history and understand that he is just following in a long tradition of white politicians using the support of white racists to support their ends.


  1. accessed 08152017.
  2. and